Host Google Chrome on a server, along with a frontend that connects to Chrome. Now make Google Home read the contents of the page to you. Sounds interesting?
Meet “Chrome On Home”, a proof of concept by developer Paul Kinlan. When Google announced Actions for Assistant, their API that allowed developers to build integrations with Google Home and the Assistant, Paul had this idea of setting up Chrome to read pages using Google Home.
This is just a proof of concept (POC) as of now, and you cannot actually interact with Chrome using Home. It would just read the title and text of the page.
The idea of headless Chrome comes from the “Headless Web” concept. Consider this, what if everything was powered by “The Web”, but you never saw a browser?
This is the idea that the interaction points that users have with the web will not be in the traditional browser, but go beyond that. Chrome OS users will be able to relate to this idea more. Those notifications that you receive from websites? You can consider that as a piece of “headless web”. It is coming from the web, but you are not interacting with it using a browser.
Headless Chromium allows running Chromium in a headless/server environment. You can find more details about this project here.
The Accessibility Tree
Here is the next important part of this integration, the Accessibility Tree.
“Imagine that you’re building a user interface for screen reader users only. Here, you don’t need to create any visual UI at all, but just provide enough information for the screen reader to use”, the documentation says.
With those two pieces, we arrive at the next stop, Chrome On Home. Paul has hosted this project on Github, if you are a developer interested in checking this out.
When all those pieces are in place, user says “open Google.com” or “go to Google.com”, Home connects to the (headless) Chrome browser running on a server, and loads the page. The Accessibility Tree starts reading out the content of the page to you. Sounds like magic yet?
I would totally love to see this on a video demo, but unfortunately we do not have this yet. If you guys find this anywhere, please drop me a comment!
For now, read more about this project here, and do not forget to share this news with your friends!